Summary: A Christian perspective on Death.
Teddy Roosevelt said that "...both life and death are parts of the same Great Adventure." I will like to focus on the word thanatos, today. More on the spiritual death rather than the physical which this word can also mean.
For you see according to Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, Thanatos means one of two things 1) "the separation of the soul (the spiritual part of man) from the body (the material part)" or 2) "the separation of man from God." The first being the physical death and the second being the spiritual death leading to damnation. "O! what pains do men take to get to hell! Early and late they toil at sin; and would not Divine justice be in their debt, if it did not pay them their due wages?"
Thanatos carries with it the implication of the expulsion of man from God’s perfection "For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)" (Romans. 5:17). "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life..." (John 5:24).
Both the reference from Romans and the Gospel reference say that there is more to death than an end. What a great hope that we have in that day that we can understand that there is more to death than an end for the believer.
Vine’s says that “Death, in whichever sense it is used, is always, in Scripture, viewed as the penal consequence of sin, and since sinners alone are subject to death,
Rom. 5:12, it was as the Bearer of sin that the Lord Jesus submitted thereto on the Cross, 1 Pet. 2:24. And while the physical death of the Lord Jesus was of the essence of His sacrifice, it was not the whole. The darkness symbolized, and His cry expressed, the fact that He was left alone in the Universe, He was ‘forsaken;’ cf. Matt. 27:45-46.”
The reality of death for the unbeliever is as Alexander Smith said, "Your death and my death are mainly of importance to ourselves. The black plumes will be stripped off our hearses within the hour; tears will dry, hurt hearts close again, our graves grow level with the church-yard, and although we are away, the world wags on. It does not miss us, and those who are near us, when the first strangeness of vacancy wears off, will not miss us much either." For the unbeliever it is the end for the body, but for the Christian, the soul lives on. We all know that as Christians, we should not miss our loved ones anyway for we will one day be reunited in the hereafter. That is not to say we should not grieve as that is the natural way, but we should not miss them.
When my grandfather died, I grieved for a while as was natural for those who have lost one truly close to them. However, I soon realized that sooner than I realized I would be with my grandfather and he with me. We would be praising God and singing
hymns to the risen creator. This helped me to truly "get-over" my pain and grief from my lost loved one.
NO, when it comes to the Christian, we stand on the promise of John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that whosoever believes in him would not perish (apollumi) but have eternal life."
We need to remember that "Scripture is not the book of death, but of life, of everlasting life through Jesus Christ our Lord. It tells us, in oft-repeated and unmistakable terms, of the dreaded reality of death, but it proclaims to us still more loudly the wonderful power of the life which is in Christ Jesus. (ISBE)"
There is power in the word of death, so how are we going to avoid this "undiscovered country" which is inevitable for those not knowing God. First as it says in Romans 6:23 "...the wages of sin is thanatos...," there is a price that we pay for our sins. Next we need to realize that we all need that saving grace, and it is as easy to attain as calling on God. From there we connect to his love and saved from the damnation that we deserve as prescribed in John 3:16 "...whosoever believeth...".
God has laid out the plan of salvation and life for us through the crosswork of his son, Jesus Christ. The real question should not be "what is salvation?", but rather would salvation be necessary if not for sin? Would thanatos, death, be around if not for sin? The answer we find is simple, no. How then can we seek to rectify something that has plagued mankind for centuries? We can’t, only the grace of God can save someone from thanatos. For as Paul put it in Ephesians chapter 2, "It is by grace you have been saved through faith..." We were dead to God but found life after conversion when we allowed ourselves to be transformed from the caterpillar to the chrysalis to the beautiful butterfly.